There is a Facebook group for people who grew up in Cutler Ridge, a once unincorporated part of Dade county. It is now renamed Cutler Bay and is an incorporated part of Miami-Dade county. If you lived south of Eureka Drive (north of Eureka is technically Perrine), east of US1 (AKA Useless 1) and north of SW 212th Street……you grew up in Cutler Ridge and are a Ridge Rat. As time passed, we included anyone living on the west side of US1 because they built a new high school over there and stopped busing us north out of Cutler Ridge to the “rich” high school, Palmetto. Miami is a giant grid. Streets and terraces ran east and west. Avenues and roads ran north and south. It was easy to navigate, except when they named the streets after places. In Cutler Ridge, all the streets were named after islands and places in the Caribbean: Bahama Drive, Bahia Drive, Christmas Road, Martinique, Haitian Drive, Caribbean Boulevard, Gulfstream, Coral Sea Road……you get the idea. Except….there was a Lisa Road. And my whole life, I have wanted that street sign. It’s probably not wise to declare so publicly that I have aspirations of vandalism. Actually, I just wish someone ELSE would be vandal for me and deliver that emerald green, reflective street sign to my doorstep or better yet….put it under my Christmas tree. Make Santa the vandal.
If I were honest, we were all a bunch of vandals and petty thieves. I stole candy bars from Grants around the age of 10. I actually ate them in the store. I also pocketed some small toy and when my mom caught me, she made me go back into the store and apologize to the manager, give back the stole item, PAY for it anyways (an injustice that made absolutely no sense when I was giving it back)…..and then I had to apologize over the public announcement system to the entire store. Talk about humiliation…..except….I knew the drama. I accepted my role. I was pissed about getting caught but I was not contrite. I was embarrassed but not rehabilitated. I just switched modis operandi. I started stealing kitchen matches. I kept them hidden in a glass One-A-Day vitamin bottle with the mustard yellow plastic top. I slipped that bottle down into the center crook of the Persian lime tree in the side yard. I would use them to set the melaluca tree trunks on fire in the park.
We ratted around on our bikes and once driving…in our cars. We stole Bell phone cones, Bob’s barricades, bashed mail boxes, dragged away trash cans and toilet papered peoples’ houses. The Southridge band TP’d my house when my sister Debbie was in the band. They used HUNDREDS of rolls of TP and our house was not visible from the street….and the street was not visible from with in the house. We had TP in the Australian pines for YEARS.
Anyways…the point is…we were all a bunch of ‘Turkeys”. And on this Tuesday before Thanksgiving, I give thanks for my childhood and the incubator in which I was raised and roamed.